I never thought I would go vegan, simply because I love seafood and cheese too much to give them up for the rest of my life. But I also love animals and the environment with a deep passion, so I decided to go vegan for the month of April in celebration of Earth Month (Earth Day is April 22ndthis year). Before I dive into what I ate during my first week as a vegan, let me give you a little background on my eating habits so you know how I went into this new diet. (Veganism is not simply a diet, but the food aspect is all I’m going to talk about in this post as it pertains to Earth Month).
When I was young – maybe around ten – I accidentally walked in on my dad watching a TV show on how ground beef is made. I didn’t watch much of it, but I didn’t have to to know that I wanted no part in it. I stopped eating beef – with a few exceptions as I grew up (my dad does make a mean grilled teriyaki burger) – and now haven’t eaten it in a few years. This may seem silly, but when I discovered that pepperoni is made with beef only about six months ago, I stopped eating pepperoni pizza cold turkey. For years, I wouldn’t eat beef burgers and steak – that form of beef. But now, I won’t eat anything that has anything from a cow in it (not including dairy, although I prefer coconut milk anyways).
My diet throughout my teens and early twenties was centered around poultry and seafood, with a little pork. I’ve always liked fruits and vegetables – healthy eating in general has always been important to me.
Leading up to the start of April and my vegan adventure, I ate pretty healthy and did my best to emphasize whole foods and plant-based eating, but still focused my protein intake on poultry and seafood (and occasionally a few slices of bacon). I found it much harder to eat healthy filling meals when I didn’t prep them on the weekends, and ended up digging though my freezer for what I had (chicken nuggets and burger patties, leftover turkey chili, pepperoni pizza, etc.). Lunch meat was also something I reached for frequently simply for convenience.
Meat is so ingrained in us as the protein source, that it takes effort and thought to come up with other ideas. It takes time to develop our knowledge and have an arsenal of plant-based protein and recipes we know how to make in the back of our minds.
Overall, going vegan has not been hard for me. Like I said before, I was eating a pretty healthy plant-heavy diet prior to April, and I planned and prepped my food the weekend before, which I cannot stress the importance of enough. Just like with anything new, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I can honestly say that I have more energy and feel happier, even when I don’t get enough sleep. I have been hungry, but that’s why I keep snacks with me (and frankly, I’m always hungry anyways J). If you are thinking about going vegan, I urge you to find a couple of easy recipes and make them the day before you start. Supplement those recipes with some easy-to-prep “fast” – yet healthy – foods like frozen veggie burgers (my favorite is below).
I love cooking and have had so much fun cooking for myself. I love trying new things in the kitchen and learning along the way. Cooking does take time, so I made sure to prioritize meal prep and schedule it in. I planned for one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner, with an optional frozen veggie burger to throw in when I felt like it. I also made sure I had enough snacks.
What I ate my first week as a vegan:
Loaded Peanutbutter Banana Breakfast Toast
- 1 slice whole wheat toast
- 2 TBSP all natural peanut butter
- ½ a banana, sliced
- 1 TBSP granola (I used Trader Joe’s ancient grain granola)
- 1 tsp maple syrup
Trader Joe’s thai lime chili cashews
Veggies with hummus
(I tried making chocolate protein bars, but they did not turn out well.)
Popcorn with coconut oil and pink sea salt
*I also had a box of Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burgers in the freezer for when I wanted something different for lunch or dinner. If you haven’t had them before, the box comes with four veggie patties (potatoes, corn, other veggies and Indian spices) that you can either microwave, fry up in a pan, or put on the grill. I personally like them with ketchup, but they are also good with lettuce and tomato with some of TJ’s mango ginger chutney (also Indian flavors). I’ve been eating these burgers for years and love them – vegan or not!
The only processed “fake” food I bought was vegan cheese for the pizza wrap and vegan butter to put on the bread and to cook with. Other than that, I ate all whole foods.
I know there is a detox period of two-four weeks when switching to a vegan diet, and I am excited to see what improvements in my body and skin come with that time.